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AMC Networks Bringing Back Bob Odenkirk, ‘Orphan Black’

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in AMC's 'Better Call Saul'
AMC Networks is developing another show for 'Better Call Saul' star Bob Odenkirk (Image credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

AMC Networks, holding its upfront presentation in New York Wednesday evening, said it bringing back some of its most popular properties and personalities. 

The programmers said it is developing a new series called Straight Man that will star Bob Odenkirk, who was featured in AMC’s riveting Breaking Bad and starred in its prequel Better Call Saul, which is starting its final season.

AMC also said it has greenlit Orphan Black: Echoes, a series described as being set in the universe of Orphan Black, the popular BBC America show.

The extension of audience favorites comes as AMC’s monster hit, The Walking Dead, comes to an end later this year. The original version of the zombie drama, one of the highest-rated series in the history of cable, has spawned a franchise that remains undead with an expanding roster of series and movies.

Odenkirk’s new series, Straight Man, is based on the book by Richard Russo about the chairman of the English department at a Pennsylvania college having a mid-life crisis.

“Bob Odenkirk is just as good as it gets” said Dan McDermott, president of entertainment and AMC Studios for AMC Networks. “We feel so fortunate to be developing a new show that would keep him at AMC after Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, two iconic series that have been beloved by millions of fans and helped define AMC and its reputation for unforgettable characters and high-quality storytelling for adults. We’re also thrilled to be working again with our partners at Sony Pictures Television and Mark Johnson’s Gran Via to explore this compelling material.”

If it gets picked up, Straight Man would premiere on AMC Plus and AMC in 2023. 

Aaron Zelman and Paul Lieberstein are adapting the novel and will be executive producers along with director Peter Farrelly, Russo, Odenkirk, Naomi Odenkirk and Marc Provissiero.

“I loved Paul and Aaron’s take on Richard’s excellent, entertaining novel. Once again a project with AMC with a focus on character depth and sensitivity,” said Bob Odenkirk. “This milieu (academia) seems very pertinent to the conversations we’re all having. I am drawn to the tone of humanity and humor in the novel and I look forward to playing this role — something lighter than my recent projects but still closely observed and smart.” 

Orphan Black Echoes is being produced and distributed by Boat Rocker, the company behind the original Orphan Black series. 

Orphan Black had a remarkable run on BBC America, attracting millions of dedicated and highly engaged fans, captivated by a smart and engrossing story and a star-making and Emmy-winning performance by Tatiana Maslany,” said AMC's McDermott. “We can’t wait to dive back in with Anna, John and our partners at Boat Rocker and deliver an all-new version of this rich world that is worthy of the #CloneClub.”

The show’s 10-episode season is expected to premiere on AMC’s linear networks in 2023.

Anna Fishko is creator, writer, showrunner and executive producer of Orphan Black: Echoes, with John Fawcett, co-creator of the original series who also directed 17 episodes across all five seasons, signed on as director and executive producer. David Fortier and Ivan Schneeberg, executive producers from Boat Rocker on the original Orphan Black series, return as executive producers on the new series. Katie O’Connell Marsh, Nick Nantell and Kerry Appleyard will also executive-produce for Boat Rocker. 

“Embarking on a new saga of Orphan Black with Anna, our partners at Boat Rocker, and AMC could not be more exciting,” Fawcettsaid. “For all our dedicated OB fans out there, I am thrilled that we can bring this new chapter to them. Without our fans, this new show certainly wouldn't exist and for that I am deeply grateful. I can't wait to ‘follow the crazy science’ for them.” ■

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.